Marketing your practice is an integral part of having a law practice. Whether you are in a larger firm that requires you to bring in or maintain a particular book of business or are in a smaller “eat what you kill” environment, business development and marketing will continue to be critical throughout your career. However, lawyers practice law and have studied law, so serving as a marketer is often uncomfortable.
“If marketing is like playing golf — you put in the time to refine your swing, play the long game and don’t panic if you hit the occasional sand trap — then legal marketing is like playing golf with no handicap and only a five iron. There are extra rules for your websites, unique challenges for your advertising and a whole lot of legal lingo that your average site visitor probably won’t understand,” according to a Forbes blog post.
In addition to the Rules of Professional Conduct that govern lawyer advertising, lawyers have to contend with challenges like ensuring they are not using “legal-ease” or vernacular that will only be understood by other legal professionals. Law firm marketing is still relatively new, as its only been in the last 30 years or so that the ethical rules have allowed for more direct client targeting. Smart marketers who have found their niche are using marketing vehicles that connect them directly to their target audience – ie their desire client base.
There is no doubt that most lawyers get a good deal of their business from referrals, but the internet is also a huge player in the legal marketing game. According to a 2012 survey, 3 out of 4 consumers who are looking for an attorney turn to the internet at some point in the process, whether it is to find an attorney directly or to find out more about an attorney who they have been referred to by a friend, family member or professional contact. So, in addition to other advertising and marketing vehicles you might consider, like print and radio advertising, online marketing needs to be a part of the mix.
Here are some strategies for maximizing your online marketing budget:
- Use social media to position yourself as an expert. Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In allow you to post or share articles and serve as a content creator, curator or both. They provide platforms and audiences for you to share your knowledge, and while gaining followers is important, gaining the right followers is even more important. If you are new to social media, we’ve provided a primer on how to get started.
- Serve as a resource through your website. With smart and consistent content, not only can you gain a reputation as a thought-leader, but you can draw a steady stream of traffic to your website. Through articles, videos, and other commentary, you can showcase your expertise, and use your social media channels to promote the content that you have created, rather than list the virtues of your firm. Consumers are hungry for information – become one of the places that consistently provides it.
- Invest in and test targeted advertising. On Facebook, in particular, you can target your advertising by geography, areas of interest, education, income level and more. Advertising on social media is relatively inexpensive, allowing you to test different ads and combinations of key words to see what garners the most interest. It also comes with built-in analytics, allowing you to easily asses the success of your ad buy and strategically plan for your next one.
- Give, and then give some more.
- Whether it is by hosting a live Q & A, providing case studies, defining legal terms, or providing a guide on court processes related to your area of practice, there are a lot of ways that you can generously give to your potential client base without using the internet solely to serve as a megaphone for your firm. Not only does this give you an opportunity to provide information and serve as a resource for potential clients, but it gives existing clients a reason to return to your site and social media channels over and over again and refer their friends and family to your site as well.